• 10 new testing centres for HGV drivers opening across country, with more to open over course of week, as Army is deployed to offer support
• Additional support for haulage firms to establish their own testing centres at depots, with kits provided free of charge
• HGVs using Dover and Eurotunnel will get fast-tracked past queues if they get tested before arriving in Kent
• Hauliers urged to ensure all correct documentation, including Kent Access Permits, in order before arriving in Kent to ensure they can cross the channel
The Government is taking further steps to help hauliers get tested before they travel to Kent or any port heading to France, in an effort to reduce disruption for drivers as they carry goods across the Channel.
The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, today (Saturday, 2 January) announced the creation of 10 new testing locations across the country, with a further 10 opening tomorrow (Sunday, 3 January), and more being added this week.
In addition, to help hauliers cross the Channel as quickly as possible, the Government is offering to help any business to set up a testing centre at its own premises to ensure trucks heading for France depart ‘Covid ready’.
The Department of Health and Social Care will support this, including the provision of testing kits entirely free of charge, and any business able to take advantage of this offer is urged to so to avoid the risk of delays waiting for tests either in Kent or at the public sites.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “As a result of the heroic efforts of hundreds of military and civilian personnel who have worked hard over the past 10 days, we have made incredible progress in clearing the queues of drivers left stranded as a result of the French Government’s actions.
“If we are to keep traffic flowing in Kent, it is essential drivers are tested before they travel down to the area and that they have a Kent Access Permit before heading to the border, and these new testing centres both at service stations and inside businesses, will help reduce delays.”
Tests will be available at the Information Advice Sites the Government has set up for hauliers around the country, originally to provide advice about the requirements for travelling to the continent after leaving the EU.
Now military personnel will be at 10 of these sites to provide Covid testing for haulage drivers, providing a negative result in the required 72-hour window before arriving in Kent, fast-tracking their access to the ports.
Lateral Flow Devices are being used to test hauliers that provide results within the hour and provide the necessary negative test result to allow them to continue on their journey into France.
The Armed Forces are experienced in using these devices having used them for mass testing in Liverpool, Merthyr Tydfil and Medway.
As well as delivering testing, staff at the sites can also provide guidance on new border processes after EU transition and check whether drivers have all the right paperwork.
Significant progress has been made in ensuring over 25,500 lorries have crossed the Channel since the French Government introduced unprecedented restrictions due to the new Coronavirus variant.
Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said: “The Armed Forces are once again demonstrating their flexibility, redeploying to new testing sites to ensure quicker access and minimal disruption on the approaches to Dover and the Eurotunnel.
“As we saw throughout the festive period the Armed Forces are dedicated to help keeping the country moving, healthy and secure in 2021.”
More information on haulier advise site locations and testing here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/haulier-advice-site-locations
Notes to editors
Haulage drivers arriving in Kent with proof of negative Covid test and a Kent Access Permit will now be ‘fast tracked’ with quicker access to the port or Eurotunnel terminal. Hauliers using the Short Straits (Port of Dover or Eurotunnel) must also use the Check an HGV is Ready to Cross the Border service to apply for a Kent Access Permit, or check they have the paperwork needed to cross the border between Great Britain and the EU via the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel.
More than 1,000 Kent Access Permits were issued for travel on 1 January 2021, in line with numbers of HGVs expected to proceed to the border.
Hauliers needing help on new border requirements who are unable to reach an Information Advice Site can still access all the information online and connect with a member of staff to chat through any questions they may have. The new haulier readiness website is available in 13 languages, including Polish, Romanian, Turkish and Dutch, with a multilingual chat function, that is manned throughout the week.
HGVs leaving England for France can only cross the Channel with evidence of an authorised negative COVID test, that has been conducted within the 72-hour period before their departure. This is mandated by the UK and French governments.
HGV drivers can be fined £300 without a Kent Access Permit when travelling through Kent ports, or if using a fraudulent declaration.
The first 10 Testing locations for hauliers will be at the following service stations, by the existing Information Advice Sites:
- Reading Eastbound
- Sutton Scotney Southbound
- Watford Gap South
- Donington Park
- Doncaster North
- Carlisle Stobart Truck Stop
- Rugby Stobart